According to the Architecture Billings Index, in 2014, 10 out of 12 months showed an increasing demand for design services, indicating a healthy outlook for the nonresidential construction industry this year. The Southern and Western regions of the U.S. were particularly hot.
In addition, American Institute of Architects (AIA) Chief Economist Kermit Baker said “the continued solid upturn in design activity at institutional firms” was “particularly encouraging.”
Southern architecture by Alabama-based architect Bill Ingram
The monthly ABI index scores are centered on 50, with scores above 50 indicating an increase in billings, and scores below 50 indicating a decline. The AIA reported the December ABI score was 52.2, up from 50.9 in November—reflecting a strong increase in design activity.
The new projects inquiry index was 58.2, following a mark of 58.8 the previous month. Design contracts posted a mark of 49.9, after a 54.9 score in November.
Key December ABI highlights were as follows:
• Regional averages: South (56.8), West (52.9), Midwest (50.8), Northeast (45.5)
• Sector index breakdown: multi-family residential (55.7), institutional (52.5), commercial / industrial (51.2), mixed practice (45.8)
• Project inquiries index: 58.2
• Design contracts index: 49.9
The regional and sector categories are calculated as a three-month moving average, whereas the national index, design contracts and inquiries are monthly numbers.
The results of the ABI are formed from a survey sent to a panel of AIA member-owned firms. Participants are asked whether their billings increased, decreased, or stayed the same in the month that just ended as compared to the prior month, and the results are then compiled into the ABI.